In Solidarity

We grieve for the eight victims of Thursday’s shooting in Indianapolis, four of whom were Sikh from the Punjabi community. As we have learned, many Sikh employees worked at the FedEx warehouse. Although the motive for the murders is still being determined, recent evidence revealed that the shooter was browsing white supremacy websites. As the Sikh communities continue to navigate the complexities of grief, we hold them close and think of the historical trauma and recent wounds our Sikh and South Asian brothers and sisters have endured.

“Our hearts go out to their families of those killed in Indianapolis and to the Sikh community in Indiana as well as the other victims,” said Rod Lew, executive director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL). “We need to recognize that the current environment of hate and violence against Asian Americans is built on racism in all forms, including systemic racism and policies that perpetuate fearmongering.”

 The current environment of hate and violence against Asian Americans is nothing new. From federal policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to the racist targeting of South Asian people following 9/11, and the white supremacist killing of six Sikhs at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012.  These are just a few examples of the racist policies and hate crimes that have occurred in our country.

During the past year, #StopAAPIHate has reported  3,795 incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021 against Asian Americanss. We understand that our Asian American community is going through pain and fear, and we stand in solidarity with you during these troubling times.

We thank our network partners from across diverse communities for speaking out against all forms of violence and racism against Asian Americans and other communities of color. We continue to stand as an advocate for addressing racism as a public health issue; ultimately, safety from racially-motivated violence cannot be separated from community healing and well-being. We encourage a united front across different sectors, including media, business, justice, government, and community to respond appropriately and with compassion to ensure that we honor those lives lost and strive for justice for the families and for our communities.

You can donate to the memorial fund set up for the Sikh victims of the shooting by local gurdwaras (Sikh temples) who are working with the families at https://gofund.me/193dd753. If you are looking to support Sikh organizations at this time, please consider the following: Sikh CoalitionSALDEFJakara Movement, and Kaur Life.

In Solidarity,

Rod Lew, MPH
Executive DirectorFull Statement

In Solidarity

We mourn with and extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the six Asian American women senselessly killed last night. We hold our loved ones close as we navigate the complexities of grief.

“We are deeply saddened by the murder and loss of the six Asian American women and our hearts go out to their families and to the Asian American community in Georgia,” said Rod Lew, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL). “We need to recognize that the environment of hate and brutality against Asian Americans, and particularly against women, is built on racism in all forms, including systemic racism, sexism, and policies that perpetuate fearmongering.”

Although a local sheriff Capt. Jay Baker claimed that the Atlanta killings were not racially-motivated and that the murder suspect was “just having a bad day,” we cannot ignore that these killings occurred in an environment rife with unabated hate and violence against Asian Americans. We call upon our law enforcement and elected officials to publicly acknowledge and address the rise in hate crimes. Furthermore, we ask local and state policymakers to make culturally-tailored crisis intervention resources available for Asian Americans to address physical and mental health issues stemming from this toxic hate-filled environment.

We thank our network partners from across diverse communities for speaking out against all forms of violence against Asian Americans and for uplifting our voices. We continue to stand as an advocate for public health and health equity; ultimately, safety from racially-motivated violence cannot be separated from community healing and wellbeing. We must also come together as a united front across different sectors, including media, business, justice, government, and community to respond appropriately and with compassion to this growing crisis.

During the past year, #StopAAPIHate has reported 3,795 incidents against Asian Americans.  We understand that our Asian American community is going through pain and fear, and we stand in solidarity with you during these troubling times.

We ask that anyone experiencing or witnessing incidents report them to stopaapihate.org.

In Solidarity,

Rod Lew, MPH
Executive Director
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)

Justice for George Floyd.

Black Lives Matter.

On behalf of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), we join in solidarity with Black communities throughout our country and the world in calling for justice for Mr. George Floyd. We are deeply saddened, pained and outraged by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the latest in a long history of brutal killings that include Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Oscar Grant, Stephon Clark, and countless other African Americans. Black communities have been the target of police brutality and violence deeply rooted in structural and systemic racism.

Many of us as Asian Americans, at least in part, contribute to sustaining a social structure in this country centered on White privilege. It hurts that Tou Thao, one of the police complicit in the murder of Mr. Floyd is Asian American. Indeed, we cannot stand by and watch when our inaction and silence do harm. To stand in solidarity requires us to address anti-Blackness within our communities with renewed commitment and vigilance.

Like all sectors of our society, the institution of public health is not immune to racism. All too often, we fail to call out our own privilege, especially its dependence on institutional racism and systems of power, as we simultaneously call for “health equity.” Racism is a key public health issue and dismantling racism is a fundamental public health strategy, without which we cannot realize health equity.

Our hearts go out to our friends in Minnesota with whom we have collaborated on community building and leadership programs, especially the LAAMPP Leadership Institute. We offer our condolences, support, and steadfast commitment to amplify calls for racial justice, racial equity, and health equity in tobacco control.

We must support Black Lives Matter and take action accordingly in every facet of our lives.

In solidarity,

Rod Lew, MPH
Executive Director
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)

Joon-Ho Yu, MPH, PhD
Chair, Board of Directors
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL)

To find some places to donate and ways to take action as Asian Americans, take a look at the crowdsourced document Asian Accountability to Black People.

Dear APPEAL Partners and Members,

First of all, I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. During these very uncertain and trying times it is our individual and collective health that is most important.  We especially would like to recognize and thank those who are on the front lines for risking your own health in serving all of our communities.

As with other community organizations, the APPEAL team is observing the shelter-in-place policy in California until at least May 3. And like many of you, we are readjusting to working remotely and balancing taking care of work, our families, and ourselves.  We wanted to let you all know that APPEAL is committed to continuing our tobacco control, leadership development, and health equity efforts during this time. With smokers and vapers being more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work around tobacco cessation and control becomes increasingly important.  We are also joining with other organizations to denounce the increasing racist attacks against Asian Americans and bring awareness to equity issues such as the loss of jobs, the increased risk for those in the health industry, and the communication and technology divide in this country that determines whether it’s easy to “work from home.”

In addition to tobacco, we are continuing to advocate for health equity.  Whether focused on commercial tobacco use, healthy eating and active living, the impact of opioids on AAs and NHPIs, or COVID-19, we continue our efforts. Collaboratively. While we won’t be able to meet in-person (so important for building partnerships!), we will adjust and expand our efforts to communicate in this new world virtually through webinars, online calls, social media, and other avenues for community engagement.

We are still hoping to convene APPEAL’s 25th Anniversary Conference on September 9-10, but will not make a determination on how we will convene (in-person or virtually) just yet.  Our staff and advisory committee will continue planning for this event in the meantime.

We have partnered with many of you for years (and decades) and are so grateful for your expertise and collaborative spirit that have benefitted our communities.  We continue to look to you to see how we can best address the growing needs in our local AA and NHPI communities. Please let us know what we can do to help.

Thank you to our amazing APPEAL staff, board, and partners for your amazing commitment to continuing to serve our communities and striving for health equity.

Wishing you and yours the best of health.

In solidarity,

Rod Lew

Microsoft Word - HEALTH_ADVISORY 01.28.2015 FINAL.docx

Tobacco is a leading cause of death among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) and after two decades of work fighting the ravages of tobacco in our communities, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL), welcomes the State Health Officer’s Report on the dangers of E-Cigarettes announced Wed., Jan. 28, by the California Department of Health. The state joins 74 cities and counties throughout California that, in 2014, recognized the threat of e-cigs and implemented policies to protect their residents.

“This afternoon’s press conference, held by the California Tobacco Control Program and California Department of Health, makes clear that e-cigarettes pose a threat to the health of our communities. We at APPEAL welcome the state’s clarity and its decision to issue a health advisory to medical practitioners altering them to the threat,” said Rod Lew, founding executive director of APPEAL.

At the heart of the report are startling numbers. For the first time ever, national data showed that among U.S. teens, use of e-cigarettes actually surpassed the use of traditional cigarettes in 2014. The State Health Officer’s Report included preliminary data from the California Healthy Kids Survey of more than 430,000 middle and high schools students that reflected this same trend- 6% of 7th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 2% smoke traditional cigarettes; 12% of 9th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 4% smoke traditional cigarettes; and 14% of 11th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 6.8% smoke traditional cigarettes. In all instances, the e-cigarette use is much higher than use of traditional cigarettes.

The impacts on AANHPI communities appear to be even more shocking. Preliminary data from a 2014 survey of Asian and Pacific Islanders between 18 and 25 years old in California show that while 8% of respondents currently smoke traditional cigarettes, 17% currently use electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), like e-cigs and e-hookahs, with that number jumping to 22% among male respondents.

“We at APPEAL strongly believe that e-cigs are a new way to deliver the same additive drug – nicotine — that allows Big Tobacco to dodge regulations enacted to protect our communities and our youth from death and disease,” said Lew.

One of APPEAL’s key missions is to protect our communities and, in particular, the next generation from a lifetime of nicotine addiction. In spite of claims by those who sell e-cigs that their products provide help in quitting the use of tobacco products, the state report points out that there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes. In addition, dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes is continuing to rise, which may diminish any potential benefits of cutting back on traditional cigarettes.

People wanting to quit should use cessation resources offered by their health insurance plan including access to FDA-approved cessation aids. The California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO BUTTS is a free, effective resource available to all Californians wanting to quit any and all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The California Smokers’ Helpline provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Ultimately, nicotine is an additive substance that provides no benefit and is associated historically with considerable adverse impacts on health. Decades of work, millions of dollars, and literally millions of deaths have been invested in fighting the impact that tobacco and nicotine have had on AANHPI communities. We strongly oppose products that threaten to undo that investment and applaud the California Department of Health and California Tobacco Control Program for providing clear and important information on the subject.

Tobacco is the #1 preventable cause of disease, disability, and death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and is associated with the top three killers of AAPIs – heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Even as the nation as a whole prepares for the Great American Smokeout coming up on November 20, many AAPI subgroups (Chinese, Filipino, Cambodian, Korean, Lao, Vietnamese, and others) face disproportionate rates of tobacco use and associated health impacts. So, APPEAL’s RAISE Network is re-branding the mainstream Great American Smokeout (Nov. 20) as the Great Asian American Smokeout.

Please join in by snapping a photo of yourself making the face that best shows your feelings about smoking and post it to #RAISEwellness and #GreatAmericanSmokeout on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Find out more on the Great Asian American Smokeout page!